I was born in 1966 to a mom who would have been a hippie or academic if she did not get married at 18 and start having kids so early. My mom was passionate about her fight against oppression in all forms and impressed upon my sisters and me the importance of social equity for all regardless of race. The institution of slavery and its antithesis embodied in the Civil Rights movement, made it easy for a young kid like me to see the difference between social unfairness and social fairness. The distinction was made clearer when my mom read two books with me were about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Jackie Robinson. I could not understand why people could be so awful to other people. Separate bathrooms and water fountains because of skin color? Even as a kid, this seemed crazy, outrageous. Why would someone hate someone else simply because of their skin color? Baseball fans yelling the “n-word” at Jackie Robinson, the first Black player in the big leagues, disturbed me then and still does now.
A recent NY Times article based on research at Stanford, Harvard, and Census Bureau data, describes the effects of racism on Black boys; even those who grow up in wealthy families are more likely to end up poor than to remain at the level of wealth in which they were raised. The same is not true for Black girls. “Even when children grow up next to each other with parents who earn similar incomes, black [sic] boys fare worse than white boys in 99 percent of America…Black men raised in the top 1 percent — by millionaires — were as likely to be incarcerated as white men raised in households earning about $36,000.”
This article and other research referred to in it finds that it is not class that explains this dynamic (as frequently thought to be the case) but pervasive, structural racism and its particularly strong effects on Black males. The Times article further points out that “boys, across races, are more sensitive than girls to disadvantages like growing up in poverty or facing discrimination. While black [sic] women also face negative effects of racism, black [sic] men often experience racial discrimination differently. As early as preschool, they are more likely to be disciplined in school. They are pulled over or detained and searched by police officers more often.”
The article is well worth a read. One area of my consulting work with wealthy families focuses on educating and coaching parents about raising children in a wealth context. Unfortunately, however, I am not coming across Black families of wealth in my practice and even within the related organizations to which I belong, there are rarely Black professionals. This does not mean they do not exist, but it has not been my experience to meet them despite my work across the country.
As a result, I see a great opportunity and consequential social benefit in developing communities for Black families of wealth, and Black professionals that are focused on facilitating the perpetuation of their success (in financial and other realms) and connecting these families and professionals to opportunities for mentorship and support for impoverished Black communities. If you know of organizations along these lines – please get in touch with me and share what you know. If you’d like to make an impact on this issue, let’s put our heads together.
I did Google around looking for organizations for “Black family wealth” and “Black wealth advisors”. What tended to come up were articles about the drastic nature of wealth disparity and how difficult and challenging it is to be a Black professional.